The Dumb Waiter

Thu 11th – Sat 13th October 2012


Florence Strickland

at 09:36 on 12th Oct 2012



NADSAT’s production of Harold Pinter’s 'The Dumb Waiter' seemed to be a real collaborative effort, from the set construction to the direction, presided over by Charlie Oulton. Pinter’s play has inspired later writers such as Martin McDonagh of the well-received film 'In Bruges', and the team presented it with enormous insight into its heart.

The sparse and decrepit set and garish bare bulbs which light the basement room in which assassins Ben and Gus await their next job, seemed to perfectly sum up the vacuous isolation of their existence; going from job to job with no focus other than on what is next. Like the junior partner of the duo, Gus, how much the audience knows of what is going on is often kept purposefully to a frustratingly bare minimum.

When the dumb waiter, the focal point of the basement room, begins to deliver seemingly alien food orders, the confusion reaches its height. Michael Forde as Gus expertly weaved this frustration out with the frequent questions that escalate throughout the play. Perhaps he presents Pinter’s desire to show the Capitalist worker, separated from a smoke-screen employer, here being the elusive Wilson. However Gus is increasingly unafraid to more boldly shout up the dumb waiter to the instigator of his current situation – the namesake of the play, which seems to become more and more prevalent. Despite seemingly having worked together for years, the two are certainly not friends on the face of it and Michael makes us unsure as to whether Gus is oblivious of Ben’s irritation or purposefully attempting to rile it.

Xander Drury as Ben, plays Gus’ antithetical counterpart. He brings equal depth to his characterisation of Ben, employing a passive aggressive element to his character that eventually explodes, often physically, in the face of Gus’ frequent questioning. Unlike Gus, he refuses to acknowledge any of the emotions associated with their job, determined to treat it as a practical process. Xander’s characterisation brings tasteful humour to the stage before the tension of boredom and anticipation leaves any comedy behind.

Not having seen this play before, watching it felt like a real education on the part of the production team and actors with their mature and sensitive approach to this difficult two-man play. They seem to present the fundamental questions that the play presents as well as subtly asserting many of the answers.


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